Ramadan started today, well, actually yesterday...night. Here is a brief description of Ramadan:
Ramadan (Arabic: رمضان, Ramaḍān) is a Muslim religious observance that takes place during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, believed to be the month in which the Qur'an was revealed to Angel Gabriel which later was revealed to Prophet Muhammad. It is the Islamic month of fasting, in which Muslims don't eat or drink anything from dawn until sunset. Fasting is meant to teach the person patience and humility. Ramadan is a time to fast for the sake of God, and to offer even more prayer than usual. Also, asking forgiveness for the sins of the past, asking for guidance in the future, and asking for help with refraining from every day evils and try to purify oneself through self-restraint and good deeds is involved in Ramadan.
Muslims pray five times a day, and there is a call to prayer at each of these times, broadcast from mosques with varying loudness and intensity. Its actually a beautiful sound, the Imam (holy man/priest) calling the faithful to prayer. Click here to listen:
During Ramadan, people read and recite the entire Koran. I didn't realize, however, that some mosques broadcast this recital over the loudspeaker and it lasts all night long! We have a mosque near our house and the reading (in much the same musical voice as the call to prayer) started at sundown and went on till sunup. Despite ear plugs It was so loud that I couldn't sleep. Not to be disrespectful, but this is going to be a long month!